The world is a large and magnificent place, with more opportunities than there are those of us to fill them.
Over 32 years ago I graduated from Purdue University in computer science. Being the first person to have graduated college in my family, as I walked down the aisle at graduation, I couldn’t believe it was real. My family was very poor. I, like perhaps some of you, could tell stories that would bring most to tears. We lived a meager existence, struggling to get by. I remember how I decided to go to college. I was a senior in high school and our school was hosting a college day, where colleges came from all over Indiana and the region, set up their tables and passed out literature. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to be poor anymore. I was tired of not having what my friends had, of worrying about whether we could afford oil for our furnace to heat our home and not being able to buy the essentials at the grocery store. I remember hearing how education would provide opportunity, which in turn, would provide a chance to live a normal life like most of my friends had. I walked that day to the table where an Indiana University recruiter sat. I told him my strengths were computers and math and asked if they had something that would take me out of poverty. What that gentleman from IU did for me on that day changed my life forever. He pointed to the Purdue table and said “see that guy at the Purdue table? Purdue has a degree in computer science that you might be suited for.”
As I walked down the aisle of Purdue’s Hovde Hall, that graduation day, I had never felt the commitment to an organization or the love for a place as I had, and do, for Purdue University. Purdue University was then, and is today, more than a place. It’s where I grew up, mentally and emotionally. It’s where I learned true independence. It’s where I took full responsibility for when I went to sleep, woke, ate, studied and grew up.
As I walked down the aisle in Hovde Hall to accept my diploma, I remember choking back the tears. They were tears of disbelief, tears of happiness, tears of love for a place, for the people and for a life that I had come to feel deeply about. I knew right then that one day, I would return to Purdue University in some capacity to dedicate my life to serving the greater good, as those I admired had done for me. I wanted to be a part of the Purdue family; I wanted to one day live and work in the heart of the campus and immerse myself in the rich tradition of one of the greatest universities in the world; I wanted to change people’s lives forever. At that time, I made a commitment to one day be worthy to return to Purdue to serve in a different capacity; to teach.
Recently, I was on travel teaching out of country. The class was made up of representatives from 20 countries who spoke a collective 135 languages. When one individual asked me where I was from, without thinking, I said Purdue University. It was where I viewed my family and home to be. Then, it dawned on me, what they really wanted to know was which state and/or country was I from. To my surprise, however, this individual said “oh, you’re from West Lafayette, Indiana.” Yes, I am, I thought proudly.
Not a single day goes by that I don’t stop and simply look around at the campus, giving thanks for having been given this life. I have always been a positive person, and if I err it is usually on the side of being overly optimistic. But, I am living proof that dreams do come true. I love my life, my job, my Purdue family and my being able to live the dream. Purdue University is not a place where I spend my time. Purdue University is who I am. It’s my life’s dream come true. When I graduated from Purdue and then came to work for Purdue, I didn’t graduate from, or come to work for, a brick and mortar institution; I joined a family. A family where we take care of each other; we help each other, because we are family.
Being at Purdue is a great honor, something I do not take for granted and something I do not under appreciate. I am honored to be perceived as worthy of being here. I feel proud and a sense of serenity to be a member of the Purdue family and am again extremely thankful for the opportunity.
Why did you go to college? Do you have a vision of where you want to be five or 10 years from now? This is a season of reflection, reflection on the many things we have to be thankful for. Education provides opportunities that would not normally otherwise be there.
When you are ready to go to that next level, to obtain your master’s degree, we are here to help you. Each of our staff in ProSTAR has his/her own stories, all different, but similar in that we each recognize the power of education in helping us to achieve our dreams.
As you spend time this holiday season with family and friends, take a moment, if you would to reflect on where you want to be in the years ahead. Life can be tremendously meaningful, with the proper planning and education.
From our ProSTAR family to yours, we wish you and your loved ones the very best this holiday season.
Call us sometime. We’d love to hear from you!
With the very warmest of wishes for the holidays,